5 Popular Sales Myths: DebunkedSep 20, 2022
As I’ve progressed in my career, I’ve realized that so much of growth is “unlearning.” We spend years being sponges, soaking up every piece of advice we receive, only to realize later that not all of it is helpful or even true. Sometimes, unlearning means tossing aside habits that no longer serve us. Sometimes, it means finding new, more nuanced maxims to guide the way we work.
In the spirit of helping you grow into a stronger salesperson or professional, I’m debunking the popular sales myths I used to cling to and sharing the ideas I’ve chosen to adopt instead.
Myth: Always be available.
Truth: Your clients won’t respect boundaries you don’t set.
At the beginning of my sales career, I fell into the trap that so many young, ambitious professionals do. I thought to be successful, I needed to be working, or available to work, at every minute of every day. I was taking calls on the weekends, after hours, or really whenever someone reached out, no matter how inconvenient. There’s something to be said for paying your dues and working hard, especially when you’re starting out in a new career. However, if you don’t set your own limits, no one else will. I wish I could tell my younger self that.
There’s even some conventional wisdom to setting boundaries. Back when I was the only one managing my calendar, I would use Calendly to schedule calls. If you looked at my Calendly availability, you would think I was sitting on my hands all day. My calendar showed near constant availability, even though I was really busy. I later got this advice from a sales coach: “Don’t look so damn available.” He was right. Perception can become reality. An empty schedule can read like you have no business, so be thoughtful about the constraints you place on your time. It’s one of the most valuable resources you have!
Myth: Fake it ‘til you make it.
Truth: Choose it ‘til you become it.
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before: “Fake it ‘til you make it.” Essentially, if you don’t know what you’re doing, act like you do until it’s true. My friend Nicole Kalil introduced me to this slightly modified phrase, “Choose it ‘til you become it.” The sentiment is similar, but different in a key way. “Faking it” encourages inauthenticity, but “choosing it” leaves room to be yourself. I love that Nicole’s version conveys a sense of confidence and determination, without being phony. The truth is, getting where you want to be doesn’t require faking it. When you choose it, there’s room to admit you don’t know… and also room for crazy confidence!
Myth: Always be closing.
Truth: Not everyone is ready for you.
There’s often an anxiety among salespeople that if you’re not closing deals left and right all the time, you’re not doing your job. Obviously, closing is a part of sales success, but aiming to close every deal all the time is not only unrealistic, it’s kind of silly. No matter how good of a salesperson you are, there will always be people who just aren’t ready for you yet. Maybe there’s not a strong enough consensus from leadership or maybe there are competing internal priorities that would get in the way. Knowing when to walk away and admit it’s not a good fit is part of sales success. It’s okay when you hear, “no” or “not yet.” Clarity should always be welcome in your sales process.
Myth: Your value is in your performance.
Truth: One bad day doesn’t define you.
Oof! This is one I still need to unlearn from time to time. If I could go back and have a chat with 22-year old Lindsey, I would remind her, “You are not your role.” I used to think everyone cared about how successful I was. If I didn’t hit that sales target, it really messed with my self esteem. A few years into my sales career, I realized that a bad day didn’t change who I was. The truth is, even rock stars have bad days. Don’t get your role and identity confused! When you face disappointment, brush it off and remember who you are.
Myth: Always have a presentation deck ready.
Truth: It’s not about telling your story; it’s about listening to your clients.
I think sales folks have a tendency to conflate a polished deck with being prepared. Sure, it feels great to have a buttoned up presentation, but it can get in the way of listening deeply. Remember, a sales call is not about you; it’s about your customer. A mentor of mine, Walker McKay, told me once, “You get paid for the information you gather, not the information you give.” It’s so true! Rethinking the idea that I always needed to be “on” and instead, striving to simply be present in conversations with prospects was a game changer. Try ditching the deck and hearing the person or people across the table (or Zoom call or phone call). In my experience, it yields more sales anyway.
Before you adopt a mantra or principle into your personal paradigm, test it out. Does it hold up? Do sales leaders you respect exemplify the idea? If not, why? It’s okay to think differently from other people. When the default way of working no longer works for you, don’t be afraid to create your own way.
Speaking of forging your own path, I’m such an advocate of telling your story in a way that feels authentic to you and who you are. This is especially true on LinkedIn. Even though there are tons of great principles to know and apply, at the end of the day, there’s no one right way. Every profile is different. If you’re ready to tackle your own profile overhaul, start with my Rock Your LinkedIn Profile Guide. It’s got the tactics and tips you need to present yourself with confidence and impact. Plus, it’s free! You can find it here.